Having been a staple in Sony’s PlayStation catalog for more than two generations now, the recent release of Ratchet & Clank on PS4 hardly comes as a surprise. What is surprising is just how good the game is. The Ratchet & Clank games have been pretty hit and miss ever since the series’s PS2 heyday, where it was one of the console’s very best franchises. While series developer Insomniac Games released what is arguably the best Ratchet & Clank game in 2009 with A Crack In Time, recent years have been a bit of a letdown, with too many titles that broke away from the series’s tried and true gameplay fundamentals (All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault being prime examples).
Fortunately, 2016 looks like it could be the dawn of a new era for the spacefaring duo, with a feature film hitting theaters at the end of April and a new game for the PS4. While it would be easy to dismiss Ratchet & Clank as nothing more than a retread (it is a remake of the first game in the series, after all), this sells the game incredibly short. Ratchet & Clank is not only a welcome return to form for the series, it’s also arguably the PS4’s best exclusive game. Although Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will likely supplant it when it releases in May, as of right now, Ratchet & Clank could be considered the console’s “killer app” for the following reasons.
10. It Shows That Franchises Can Avoid Stagnation
While your own mileage may vary, one thing that the new Ratchet & Clank does well is make gameplay that we’ve encountered countless times in the last decade and a half feel fresh. There have been over a dozen Ratchet & Clank games released since 2002 and while some have definitely been better than others, the series has for the most part avoided the pitfalls of many other long-running game franchises. Ratchet & Clank plays quite similarly to its predecessors and doesn’t rock the boat with much in the way of new ideas, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, a game can simply iterate on and evolve its gameplay mechanics, as straying too far from these central fundamentals can lead to its own set of problems. At the end of the day, Ratchet & Clank may feel familiar, but it also feels vibrant and novel, proving that some game concepts never get old .. or at least, age gracefully.